Dubai: Superstar Maria Sharapova is set to make a long-awaited return to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships after accepting a wild card to join a field of top contenders for one of the most sought-after titles on the WTA Tour.
The Russian five-time Grand Slam winner last played here in 2006 and defeated former champion Martina Hingis and defending champion Lindsay Davenport before falling in the final to another former Dubai champion, Justin Henin. Her success both before and after her visit here has led to her becoming a household name around the world.
There is no question that Sharapova is one of the greatest players of the last 15 years. She has won 36 career titles to date including the Australian Open, the US Open and Wimbledon, all once, and Roland Garros twice.
She also won the WTA Finals in 2004 and the Fed Cup in 2008, before winning a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics. She also reached five other Grand Slam finals and appeared in the finals of 17 other events.
She made an impressive start to this season too with a semi-final in Shenzhen, and was unlucky to run into one of the hottest players on the WTA Tour this year, Angelique Kerber, in the third round of the Australian Open.